ONALASKA, Wis -

It is the beginning of a new era at Onalaska.

"You know, it's been a long time dream of mine to be a head coach and you finally get to do things the way you want to do them," said Head Coach Tom Yashinsky. "So it's a fun experience and the kids are really buying in."

Yashinsky is the first new head coach for the Hilltoppers in nearly two decades. Dieter Antoni coached Onalaka for 19 years. Yashinsky is only 27.

"I'm probably the youngest coach in the MVC, and probably the youngest coach in D-3 when you look at teams in those levels. But do you think about it? A little bit when it comes down to it, but that doesn't go up on the scoreboard."

"Coach Yaz," as they refer to him, served in the Air Force for four years. He was stationed in Alaska and Afghanistan.

"It helped me grow up pretty fast. It helped me understand what it meant to be away from home and it helped me to get some of the discipline that we're willing to instill in our kids out here."

"He really mentions how he like really worked hard in the air force and how like we should work hard and a lot of metaphors and similes, stuff like that," said senior offensive tackle Connor Helgeson.

"Great coach, very passionate. That'd be the one word I'd use to describe him and the rest of our coaching staff," said senior quarterback Cody Turriff.

Yashinksy hopes that passion turns in to wins. He had a strong message for his players in the first team meeting.

"It's a new year. 2012 is a new year," he said. "Last year, that team is gone. Those 18 seniors are gone. Start your new tradition right now."